Looking for a way to keep offenses guessing and slow down their pace? This 0 down or 1 down scheme might be just the trick you need.
By Micah Adams
Waukesha South High School
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At Waukesha South, our team has seen a great deal of improvement in the past two years. Led by Head Coach Dave Rusch, our defense promotes an aggressive, attacking style of defense that causes turnovers and creates confusion in opponents.
The way we look at it, a confused player is a slow player. So the more we can make the offense think, the slower they operate and the more chances we will have to make big plays and create turnovers. One of the key elements of the disruption we cause on defense has been the implementation of a Psycho package.
Defining the Psycho Package
For us, the Psycho package is a scheme that utilizes a front that does not give players specific places to line up. Instead, the defensive front players are encouraged to continually move during the quarterback’s cadence in an effort to disguise their assignment on any given play. The idea of the Psycho packaged was derived from similar ideas used by Dom Capers of the Green Bay Packers and Nick Aliotti of the Oregon Ducks.
Using a front based on movement requires finding players that are mobile and aggressive. Larger, slower players would not be able to quickly change directions in order to be in the right position at the snap of the ball while moving during the cadence. By having the right type of players on the field that can make the athletic moves required, our kids are better able to truly disguise whether they are blitzing, dropping into coverage responsible for a gap in the run game or contain on any given play.
In many ways, the use of quicker players in this system plays into our strengths as a program. South is blessed with many exceptionally gifted athletes and lots of tough kids who are passionate about football. However, we struggle at times to find the requisite size on our lines to compete in the highly competitive Classic 8 Conference, which many call the best conference in the state of Wisconsin. The Psycho package is part of our answer to this lack of size.
The key to implementing an entirely different scheme was to keep players involved in situations that they most often experienced in their roles in our base 4-3 defense as well. For example, if our Whip linebacker often was dropping into the weak side flat, his Psycho position would ask him to do that at times as well. This made the install of the Psycho package “inexpensive” in terms of practice time as the kids were often already practicing the things that they would need to do in their Psycho role.
Our personnel groupings used for Psycho varies from week to week, but always centers around getting mobile and aggressive players in position to make plays. Our base Psycho personnel includes 1 defensive tackle, 1 defensive end, and 5 linebackers in the front and 4 defensive backs in the secondary.
See What You Are Missing…
Join X&O Labs' exclusive membership website, Insiders, and get instant access to the full-length version of Coach Adams' clinic report. Here's just a short list of what you're missing in the full-length report:
- How Coach Adams teaches the Psycho package systematically to his players by using wristbands.
- How Coach Adams uses the package with two separate personnel groupings.
- What Coach Adams tells his lineman to do specifically if they are caught on the snap being out of their gap.
- How Coach Adams used a “two group method” to drill the Psycho package with his players in both two-minute, seven on seven and team periods.
- Narrated game film of the Psycho package in action.
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Through the use of deception and the emphasis on aggression, the Waukesha South defense experienced many exciting plays with the Psycho defense. Freedom in pre-snap alignment, consistency in practice habits and communication amongst players were keys to producing a unit that brought enthusiasm and confidence back to our team.
Before I finish I would like to thank the staff at XandOlabs.com for putting together an informative and engaging website. In addition, I would like to thank our head coach, Dave Rusch, for believing in me and giving me the freedom to try some of the more unconventional ideas with our defense.
Meet Coach Adams: Micah Adams is entering his 4th season as the defensive coordinator for Waukesha South High School in Waukesha, WI. During his time there, the “Blackshirts” play in the highly competitive Classic 8 conference. Coach Adams has also coached at Arrowhead High School and Milwaukee Hamilton High School. He played defensive back and running back at Wisconsin Lutheran College and Arrowhead High School. He resides in Colgate, WI with his wife Renee and their children Ava and Eli.